Message at the Pre-summit dialogue for businesses on the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS)

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the Pre-summit dialogue for businesses on the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS), 23 April 2021, Manila, Philippines via Zoom

Statement | Manila, Philippines via Zoom | 23 April 2021
  • Secretary Lopez of the Department of Trade and Industry and Chair of the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS) Task Force,
  • Co-Chairs Secretary Bello of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Secretary Lapeña of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA),
  • Senator Angara, Chairperson of the Senate Committees on Youth and Finance,
  • Undersecretary Edillon of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA),
  • Assistant Secretary Tutay of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE),
  • Distinguished representatives of government, employers and business sectors,
  • The NERS Task Force Secretariat who have been working hard to set up all the consultations for the Jobs Summit,
  • Partners from the UN agencies, World Bank and the Asian Development Bank,
  • Ladies and gentlemen,
The International Labour Organization is grateful to be part of today’s Pre-Summit Dialogue to craft the business sector's agenda towards employment recovery.
Workers and businesses face tragedy in both developed and developing economies due to COVID-19.

Clearly, the pandemic is not just a health crisis, it is an economic and labour market crisis given its impact in the country, in the region and globally, which the ILO has been tracking since last year.

COVID-19 exposed already existing inequalities and decent work deficits, and threatens to deepen them. Enterprises and workers in hard-hit sectors are struggling. Vulnerable groups such as women, youth, informal workers and migrant workers have suffered disproportionately.

ILO’s latest analysis revealed massive impact on working hours, jobs and labour income. The Asia-Pacific region experienced an estimated reduction of 7.9 per cent in working hours in 2020 compared to 2019. This is equivalent to 140 million full-time jobs affected.1 Strong social dialogue is essential to minimize the damage.

Sectoral focus group discussions over the past two weeks have demonstrated clearly the collective spirit to achieve a sustainable road to recovery in the Philippines. This can indeed be a model for other countries in the region.

The ILO together with the United Nations is committed to support the Philippines in the development and implementation of the National Employment Recovery Strategy.

We are pleased that the National Employment Recovery Strategy and its Action Plan are strategically anchored on the ILO’s four areas for policy action to stimulate the economy and employment, support enterprises, jobs and incomes, protect workers in the workplace, and rely on social dialogue to find solutions.

Without inclusive and gender-responsive policy interventions, the recovery will continue to be uneven and subject to great uncertainties. The policy focus therefore needs to be on a recovery that is robust and broad-based, addressing employment, income, workers’ rights and social dialogue.

Pro-employment macroeconomic policies need to relieve the effects of the pandemic including through fiscal stimulus, income support and social protection.

A balanced sectoral policy dimension in the recovery strategy is also crucial to support sectors hardest-hit by the crisis, as well as fast-growing ones that have the potential to stimulate the economy and quickly create new jobs.

In building a better and greener future of work, it is vital to address pre-crisis future of work trends, from technological change, demographic changes, environmental and climate change to globalization, which have come to the fore during COVID-19 such as increased digitalization.

The ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work outlines strategies for a human-centred approach.

It is crucial to invest in people’s capabilities, in decent and sustainable work and in the institutions of work towards a lasting, sustainable and inclusive recovery. A just transition and green recovery strategies are essential to a more inclusive and sustainable world of work.

The ILO has worked with government, workers and employers on the assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on the Philippines’ labour market as well as on how technological changes affect occupations and sectors. This forms part of our input to the National Employment Recovery Strategy and the Job Summit.

The UN in the Philippines has also conducted joint researches on economic diversification focusing on opportunities for productive employment and on the current state of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

As we move forward in the implementation of the NERS and its Action Plan, the ILO will continue to contribute and work with government, employers’ and workers’ organizations in line with the Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) of the Philippines.

The UN will further contribute through the Socio-economic and Peace Framework (SEPF).
This Framework puts people at the centre, aims to further prosperity while preserving the planet, and supports just and sustainable peace, and recognizes the need to support job-rich recovery efforts, social dialogue and business continuity.

By working together and through continued collaboration, we can all build a better and greener future of work, and support the NERS, the Philippine Development Plan, the Decent Work Country Programme of the Philippines, and the UN Socio-economic and Peacebuilding Framework towards a human-centred employment recovery.

Thank you and all the best! Magandang hapon po (Good afternoon)!